Inventor of the Electrical AgeBook - 2013
"This is a biography of one of the major 20th-century scientists, Nikola Tesla. It is interdisciplinary, containing accounts of U.S. manufacturing in the early 1900s and other contemporary cultural materials"-- Provided by publisher.
From Library Staff
multcolib Dec 18, 2015
An exhaustive look at the life of the enigmatic scientist, dramatic showman, and debonair lover of pigeons who invented many applications of alternating current power. Delves deeply into the workings of his inventions.
From the critics
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“… by far Tesla’s most imaginative idea for a receiver was a hand-held device connected to a vertical wire on a short pole or even a lady’s [umbrella] so that it could pick up voice messages anywhere in the world. As Tesla promised in 1904, ‘An inexpensive receiver, not bigger than a watch, will enable him to listen anywhere, on land or sea, to a speech delivered, or music played in some other place, however, distant.’ Here is the opening years of the twentieth-century, we see Tesla conjuring up a vision of a device much like a transistor radio or cell phone, with the promise of providing instantaneous access to information anytime, anywhere. (p. 340)
“… the citizens of [the young Tesla’s home town of] Gospic … had organized a fire department with uniforms and a red-and-black pumping engine. To demonstrate the engine, the fire department paraded through the streets and down to the river. There, sixteen firemen began to furiously pump the engine’s handles … but no water came out of the hose. As he watched … Tesla admitted that ‘My knowledge of the mechanism was nil and I knew next to nothing of air pressure, but instinctively I felt for the suction hose in the river and found that it has collapsed.’ … Tesla waded into the water and eliminated the kink in the input hose. Immediately the fire engine began to work and water gushed from the hose … Grateful that he had saved the day, the firemen hoisted Nikola on their shoulders and celebrated him as a hero. … Tesla learned that solving technical problems could lead to recognition and approval.” (p. 26)
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This biography tries to strike a balance between celebrating and criticizing Nikola Tesla. He had a spectacular ascent (1884-94) followed by an equally dramatic descent (1895-1905). In the decades since his death, Tesla has enjoyed a curious legacy. On one hand, his is acknowledged by engineers for his contributions to alternating current (AC), and in 1956 the “Tesla” was adopted as the name for the unit of measure for the flux density of magnetic fields. On the other hand, thanks to the many exaggerated predictions he made about his inventions, Tesla has become a figure in popular culture. The task for a Tesla biographer is to piece together his life so that both the ascent and descent make sense. While previous biographies have focused largely on Tesla’s personality, this book seeks to take measure of both the man and his creative work. The author seeks to answer three basic questions: How did Tesla invent? How did his inventions work? And what happened as he introduced his inventions? The author seeks to reveal what we can learn from Tesla about the invention process and the role that innovation plays in the economy. Some readers may be disappointed that their favorite Tesla story is not here and that there may be more technical discussion than they would like. The book offers many black and white photographs and technical drawings; endnotes; and an index.
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